Business Plan Tips

Business plan is a written description of the future of your small business and the most important document and business planning tool for your business. Business plan is a document that describes what you plan to do and how you plan to do it – it is about your business plan, management and execution.

Your business plan explains in details your business model and strategy – how you are different, why would somebody invest in your business, your management team, your sales and marketing strategy, your business operations, your financing, financial statements, reports and forecasts, your legal business structure, and the amount of capital required for your business. 

Starting and managing a business takes motivation, desire and talent. It also takes research and planning. The process of developing a business plan will help you think through some important issues that you will need to consider. Your plan will become a valuable tool as you set out to raise money for your business. It should also provide milestones to gauge your success.

Sample Business Plan Outline

Executive Summary

  • A mini-business plan in one or two pages

  • Highlights the most important points of your business plan

  • It is NOT an introduction to the plan

  • It must grab your reader, and entice him/her to read further

  • Identify the company, its background, structure and location

  • Describe what the company does, and the market it serves
  • Describe the market potential for the company’s products and services, market trends, etc.
  • Outline the backgrounds and experience of the top management team
  • Describe the funding required, the purposes for which it will be used, the collateral available (if for a lender), and the expected outcomes

Business Description

  • Brief Company Introduction
  • Mission statement
  • Location, size, history
  • Market and products
  • Overview of company capabilities
  • Objectives
  Products and Services

  • Features and Benefits
  • Uniqueness
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Technology 
  • Applications
  • Commercialization Status
  • Brief overview

Industry Overview

  • Industry Definition and Description
  • Major players within the industry
  • Factors driving dynamics
  • New products and developments
  • Legislation and Policies Driving the Industry
  • Historical and Future Trends

Market Analysis

  • Market Definition
  • Primary Market
  • Secondary Markets
  • Market Size and Trends
  • Predicted annual growth rate

Competitors

  • Direct Competitors
  • Size and product breadth
  • Revenues and profitability
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Market shares
  • Indirect Competitors

Customers

  • Target Market
  • Customer Profiling
  • Who are they?
  • Why do they buy?
  • Need satisfied by the product/service
  • How is the need currently filled?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Who makes the decision to buy?
  • How frequently do they purchase?

Marketing Strategies

  • Product/Service Strategy
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Distribution Strategy
  • Advertising and Promotion Strategy
  • Sales Strategy
  • Marketing and Sales Forecasts
  • Marketing and Sales Plans
  • Marketing Budget

Management

  • Company Organization
  • Management Team
  • Administrative Expenses
  • Management Team
  • President
  • VP Finance
  • VP Sales
  • VP Marketing
  • VP Manufacturing
  • Board of Advisors
  • Personnel
  • Human Resource Plan
  • Staffing Objectives
  • Organizational Structure
  • 3-5 year growth plan
  • Budget

Financials

  • Financial Objectives
  • Time to Cash Flow Positive
  • Time to profitability
  • Financial Assumptions
  • Capital Requirements
  • Exit Scenario
  • Pro-forma Cash Flow Projections
  • Pro-forma Profit & Loss Statements
  • Pro-forma Balance Sheet
  • Investment Requirements

Appendices

  • Resumes of Key Management
  • Patent Information
  • Customer List
  • Testimonials
  • Supplemental Financial Spreadsheets
  • Reference